(New Orleans, La.) Loyola University New Orleans baseball team heads to Jackson, Mississippi for an SSAC matchup with Belhaven University this weekend. The two teams will play on Friday, March 21st at 6 p.m. followed by a doubleheader on Saturday, March 22nd with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. at Smith-Wills Stadium.
Loyola (16-13, 6-6) will put their 14th ranked ERA in the nation to test against a Belhaven (23-7, 7-5) squad which ranks third in the NAIA in steals. The Pack will send Daniel Posway (3-2) to the mound on Friday night. He has a 1.98 ERA this season in six starts. The sophomore has pitched 41 innings and only allowed nine earned runs and nine walks while striking out 19. Kevin Lindsey (4-3) and Joel Buhler (2-4) will take the mound on Saturday. Lindsey leads the team with 43.1 innings pitched and a 0.83 ERA. His ERA ranks ninth in the NAIA as does his walks allowed per nine innings (0.62) as he has allowed only three free passes this season. Buhler has 35 strikeouts in 40 innings, his 14 earned runs has led to an ERA of 3.15. Connor Thurman (2-0) ranks third in the country with six saves as he earned three last week for the Pack.
The Pack lineup showcases leadoff hitter Brandon Snow who is hitting .276 this season. The senior leads the team with 11 RBI’s, 19 runs, six doubles, and is tied for team high honors in steals with six. Andrew Fournet has also tallied six steals while batting .350 in a part-time role. Jack Nicholson is batting .307 with a team high 27 hits and 32 total bases. He has scored 17 times and knocked in 10. Philip Cazayoux has a team best average of .365 while also scoring 13 runs.
Belhaven will look to neutralize the Wolf Pack lineup with Boomer Scarborough (3-3), Rayko Bellmas (3-1), and Chris Good (3-1). Scarborough leads the team with 41.1 innings and 34 strikeouts. He has one complete game shutout which came against Blue Mountain College on March 7th as he only gave up six hits across nine innings. Bellmas has a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 frames this season. He has 11 strikeouts while surrendering 31 hits and eight walks. Good enters with a 4.58 ERA on the year. He has tallied 14 punch outs in 39.1 innings despite giving up 51 hits. Taylor Akins is one of two people who are ahead of Thurman in saves for the year. Akins has recorded 10 saves to lead the NAIA.
Belhaven has 102 steals this season and is being led in that category by Reagan Rutledge. Rutledge is 33 for 36 steals this season and has scored a team high 29 runs. The leadoff hitter ranks number one in the NAIA in steals, attempts, steals per game, and attempts per game. Paul Pickerrell tops the team with a .350 average, 36 hits, and 25 RBI’s.
This past week the Pack went 5-2 during a seven game home stand. They swept two game series against Eureka College and Blackburn College on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Pack defeated Eureka 9-2 and 11-10. They followed those wins with victories over Blackburn 4-2 and 3-1. Loyola then played a weekend set against Spring Hill. The Badgers took game one 5-1 before the Wolf Pack snapped a 10 game losing streak to their Jesuit rivals with a walk-off 2-1 win on Saturday. Brandon Snow led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and after being sacrificed to third by Philip Cazayoux the Badgers walked the bases loaded to get to Karson Cullins. Cullins dropped a single into right field to score Snow and propel Lindsey to his fourth win of the season. The Pack then fell 9-3 in the rubber match as Spring Hill scored five runs in the ninth to break open a 4-2 game after the Pack left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Belhaven enters the matchup after playing a midweek game against an intercity opponent, Tougaloo College. Belhaven defeated Tougaloo 3-2 as Gabe Wilson lined a two RBI triple in the sixth inning to put Belhaven in front for good. Last weekend, the Blazers faced off against #1 Faulkner University. They fell 9-2, 5-2, and 4-3 in the three game set. Good pitched the finale and gave up three runs and nine hits in 4.2 innings and departed with a no-decision. Faulkner pushed the go-ahead run across in the seventh inning and was able to hold on to the win.
All-time Loyola is 32-74 against the Blazers as Belhaven won all three games last season. In game one of last year’s series Karson Cullins and Britt Pellegrin hit two-run first inning home runs to put the Pack up 4-0, but the Blazers methodically came back to win 6-4. Lindsey pitched seven innings and gave up four unearned runs in the sixth inning of game two to open up a scoreless game and send Belhaven to a 4-0 victory. Loyola fell 7-5 in the final game of the series despite mounting a ninth inning rally that saw two runs score and the game end with the tying run on base.
Belhaven entered the series with Faulkner tied atop the SSAC standings, but the sweep saw them drop into a tie for fourth with Southern Poly with a 7-5 conference record. Loyola is part of a five team tie for seventh place in the conference with a 6-6 SSAC mark. Mobile, Bethel, William Carey, and Auburn-Montgomery all sit at .500 in conference play. The top eight teams in the SSAC regular season qualify for the postseason tournament.
You can find live video of this weekend’s series at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/belhaven.portal